Seahawks shuffle roster before opener
RENTON, Wash. -- The leading receiver from a year ago is gone, the leading rusher was rumored to be heading out only to be at practice, and a half-dozen new players made introductions on Monday at Seahawks headquarters.
According to Pete Carroll and John Schneider, the massive roster shakeup just a week before the start of the regular season was all part of their plan when they approached building and reconstructing the Seattle roster.
"The most exciting part of it is if you have a coach and a coaching staff that is willing to move forward and teach and put in the extra time to get new players ready, it can be an extremely exciting period to add players," Schneider, the Seahawks general manager said on Monday. "This is not something we're trying to patch. We're trying to build. It's not like a rebuilding thing, it's not like a patching thing. It's a continuously building this thing as we go."
The 53-man roster on the field Monday afternoon was far different than the team that returned from Oakland last Thursday night following the final preseason game.
Gone was T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the Seahawks leading receiver from last year and who will make more than $6 million from Seattle in 2010 despite now being a member of the Baltimore Ravens as part of his guaranteed contract.
Houshmandzadeh was cut in order to give younger receivers Golden Tate, Deon Butler and Ben Obomanu more opportunities, along with the emergence of former first-round pick Mike Williams, Schneider said.
Also gone was versatile safety Jordan Babineaux, starting fullback Owen Schmitt, offensive lineman Mansfield Wrotto and No. 3 quarterback J.P. Losman. Those players were sent packing over the weekend after Seattle traded away starting cornerback Josh Wilson last week.
Oh, and offensive line coach Alex Gibbs suddenly retired on Friday. He was replaced by Pat Ruel, who was coaching with Omaha in the United Football League until getting a call from Carroll on Friday night. Ruel worked with Carroll at Southern California.
"It was probably more 'hellos.' Came here today and there were a bunch of guys we didn't know," Williams said. "But it was like that when we got here in the spring so we'll get the guys that just got here and get them in here as fast as we can and learning what we do and how we do it."
Still around was running back Julius Jones, rumored to be cut over the weekend (including a Tweet from ESPN's Adam Schefter), only to be at practice on Monday and undeterred by the talk of losing his job in Seattle. Schneider said he made it a point to apologize to Jones after the reports surfaced.
"It was false. You can't always believe what you read or see on TV," Jones said. "I've been in contact with everybody. My weekend went business as usual, just like practice went business as usual today. Everything you guys heard was false. I got a lot of phone calls, a lot of text messages but I'm still here."
But even though Jones is sticking around, he's being demoted for now after being Seattle's leading rusher each of the last two seasons. Carroll said after Monday's practice that Justin Forsett will get the start on Sunday.
Schneider and his scouting staff approached the cutdown day in a similar regard to the NFL draft. Schneider had an ever evolving board with all the players Seattle wanted to target. When a players they wanted became available, the Seahawks recruited aggressively.
The result: the addition of offensive linemen Stacy Andrews and Evan Dietrich-Smith; defensive linemen Raheem Brock and Junior Siavii; cornerback Mike Ness and fullback/special teams standout Michael Robinson.
"I didn't think I'd be coming back here," said Brock who was in Seattle with Tennessee to open the preseason. "But anything happens in this league. I'm happy to be here and it seems like it's going to be fun."
Now comes the task of inserting the new pieces with what remains and coming up with a game plan for Sunday's opener against San Francisco. Carroll confirmed Monday that injured left tackle Russell Okung won't play as he continues to recover from a high right ankle sprain. It's likely either Chester Pitts, coming off microfracture knee surgery, or recently acquired Tyler Polumbus will start.
Carroll also noted that most of the new additions are support players for now and not front line starters.
"This doesn't have anything to do with the game plan though, as far as I'm concerned," Carroll said of the moves. "We've been working on this game plan for months. We're all over it, so it doesn't affect it."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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